How many came home? Evaluating ex‐situ


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How many came home? Evaluating ex‐situ conservation of green turtles in the Cayman Islands

Molecular Ecology, 1/13/19, Original Article,

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Carlos Carreras is listed as the corresponding author.
E-mail address: [email protected]
Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics and IRBio, Universitat de Barcelona, , 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Corresponding author: Universitat de Barcelona, Av. Diagonal 643, 08028 Barcelona, Spain Tel: (+34)934024850 Fax: (+34) 934034420

Janice M. Blumenthal, Jack Boyle,Annette C. Broderick, Lucy Collyer, Gina Ebanks‐Petrie, Brendan J. Godley, Walter Mustin, Víctor Ordóñez ,Marta Pascual, Carlos Carreras

This article has been accepted for publication and undergone full peer review but has not been through the copyediting, typesetting, pagination and proofreading process, which may lead to differences between this version and the Version of Record. Please cite this article as doi: 10.1111/mec.15017

Ex‐situ management is an important conservation tool that allows the preservation of biological diversity outside natural habitats while supporting survival in the wild. Captive breeding followed by reintroduction is a possible approach for endangered species conservation and preservation of genetic variability. The Cayman Turtle Centre Ltd was established in 1968 to market green turtle (Chelonia mydas) meat and other products and replenish wild populations, thought to be locally extirpated, through captive breeding. We evaluated the effects of this reintroduction program using molecular markers (13 microsatellites, 800bp D‐loop and STR mtDNA sequences) from captive breeders (N=257) and wild nesting females (N=57) (sampling period: 2013‐2015). We divided the captive breeders into three groups: founders (from the original stock), and then two subdivisions of F1 individuals corresponding to two different management strategies, cohort 1995 (“C1995″) and multicohort F1 (“MCF1″). Loss of genetic variability and increased relatedness was observed in the captive stock over time. We found no significant differences in diversity among captive and wild groups, and similar or higher levels of haplotype variability when compared to other natural populations. Using parentage and sibship assignment, we determined that 90% of the wild individuals were related to the captive stock. Our results suggest a strong impact of the reintroduction program on the present recovery of the wild green turtle population nesting in the Cayman Islands. Moreover, genetic relatedness analyses of captive populations are necessary to improve future management actions to maintain genetic diversity in the long term and avoid inbreeding depression.

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